We Need A New Conference Drug


I want a new drug
One that won’t make me sick
One that won’t make me crash my car
Or make me feel three feet thick

I want a new drug
One that will stop the flow
Of conference information indigestion
So that I can grow

(With apologies to Huey Lewis And The News)

Needed: Conference Content Pepto-Bismol

We need a new conference drug.

We need some conference-related Pepto-Bismol that will treat upset brains, information indigestion, diarrhea mind and brain-burn when conference presenters try to shovel too much information into our minds.

We need conference-cannabis-THC that will seize control of our brain’s receptors and stop the flow of information into our minds so we can process what’s already there.

We need Deep-Conference Off Presenter-Repellant that we can spray on our clothes to keep presenters from over-stuffing their presentations with too much content.

We need more conference organizers to realize that CIRD, conference information reflux disease, and information indigestion are common deadly diseases, creating an epidemic in our conference experiences.

Two Conference Components To Decrease Information Indigestion

Here are two conference components that can decrease conference indigestion and increase learning.

1. Dedicated Time For Mental Digestion To Avoid CIRD

Conference information reflux disease or CIRD. We’ve all had it. It’s when the conference presenter covers too much information in a very short time. We get overwhelmed and want to vomit that information back all over the presenter. It’s just too much too fast!

The brain is very similar to our digestion system. We need to process the information in order to learn it. We need to digest it before we can retain it. In order to learn it, we need to think about it.

Big ideas, especially those that cause a paradigm shift in our thinking, are like large holiday dinners. We need more time to integrate that information into our thinking. If not, our mind quickly gets overstuffed and we don’t remember any of it.

Mental digestion does not occur with 10 minutes of Q & A at the end of the session. For every 10 minutes of content, conference participants need 10 minutes to do one or more of the following things:

  • Discuss in pairs or small groups
  • Complete an individual or group exercise
  • Reflect on how the information applies to them

2. Unstructured Social Time

Social time matters to our brain. Connecting with others is deeply important to us.

When conference organizers corral us into ballrooms for group meals and then pack that entire event with speakers and information, we don’t get time to mingle and meet others. Instead we become frustrated. It defeats one of the reasons we came to the event: to network.

If conference organizers act like helicopter parents over scheduling every second of the conference for attendees, attendees go AWOL. They start setting up their own meetings with others and avoid the conference experience.

Conference organizers need to schedule more unstructured social time, from ballroom meal functions to receptions, allowing participants to connect with others.

What conference drug would you create to stop ineffective, long diatribe talking head presenters who create information indigestion? What are some things you wish conference organizers did to allow for more digestion of content and social connections?

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  1. I believe the best drug is called “Preparation S”, or in layman’s terms – PREPARE YOUR SPEAKERS. I recently attended a conference (Dreamforce) which got wall to wall positive reviews of the speakers. I talked to some about their preparations. Salesforce had each speaker do two dry runs with Salesforce staff. The staff vetted the content, delivery and tone of each presentation and gave feedback. It was a lot of work on Salesforce’s part, but the results showed.


  2. Tahira says:

    Jeff we are listening and while we have good solid content for event camp Vancouver we are leaving lots of time to be together, to share in smaler groups or to be alone and reflect. We will see how it all works out and thank you for the information you keep sending us.

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      ‘@Garry (DarthGarry)
      Love that drug, “Preparation S!” Wow, what an investment Salesforce staff made in both their industry presenters and Dreamforce. I believe many conference organizers must begin to invest in their industry speakers to help them improve or risk becoming status quo, average, commonplace presentations that basically lure us to sleep! Thanks for sharing that. And congratulations Saleforce Dreamforce content team!!

      Thanks for reading and sharing your insights Garry. PS…loved your Dreamforce video too!

      I look forward to hearing more about EventCamp Vancouver, especially from its participants and how they view the experience. The challenge is that many adults have falsely assumed that more content and information in a dedicated time slot is superior to learning. It’s actually like a short drug high that quickly evaporates. What’s superior is long-term learning that is relevant and easily applied! And long-term learning requires the spacing you are providing. Thanks for reading and commenting Tahira!

    2. Jeff Hurt says:

      Don’t miss Sue Pelletier’s “Cure For Your Conference Ills” as she invents a new drug to help conference participants learn more. Check it out!

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